Animal loving volunteers across Falkirk district sought to help The Cinnamon Trust

A charity which helps older people and those who are terminally ill look after their pets is looking for new volunteers locally.

By Fiona Dobie
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd May 2022, 5:42 pm

The Cinnamon Trust has a network of volunteers across the country offering free pet care to those who are over retirement age or who are in the final stages of a terminal illness, in a bid to ensure owners and their pets can live together for as long as possible.

The trust’s volunteers are on hand to help out when day to day care of a pet poses a problem – whether it’s helping someone with limited mobility walk their dog, or helping them change the cat litter.

The tasks can vary, but ultimately the charity aims to relieve the owners of any worries about their pet’s welfare both during and after their own lifetime.

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Michael and Helen Cox volunteer to walk dogs for The Cinnamon Trust. Pic: Michael Gillen.

Mandy Scott, volunteer coordinator, explained: “Many elderly or ill pet owners worry about their ability to provide proper care for their animals and start looking to rehome what may be their only companion.

"This is where our national network of dedicated volunteers step in to offer support enabling them to stay together.

"We’ll walk the dog for a housebound owner, we’ll foster pets when owners need hospital or hospice care, and even clean out the bird cage or litter trays.”

Now, The Cinnamon Trust is looking for more volunteers from across the Falkirk district to give their time to help pet owners in need of support locally.

The Cinnamon Trust helps older and terminally ill people look after their beloved pets when day to day care becomes difficult.

Local resident Michael Cox has been volunteering with the charity since he moved to Scotland five and a half years ago and would definitely encourage others to get involved.

He said: “My wife moved up for a job in Glasgow and when I moved I wasn’t going to be working.

"I was concerned about being quite isolated.

"I was chatting with friends in London who said you like animals, have you heard of the Cinnamon Trust.

The search is on for dog walkers

"I hadn’t, even although we’d previously lived in Cornwall where they are based, so I looked them up.

“You go through an accreditation process before they try to match you up with someone locally who needs help.

“I’m massively allergic to cats so that ruled out some people I couldn’t help, but I do dog walking and sometimes they ask me to check other people’s properties for long term fostering.

“There’s also emergency stuff if needed for example if someone goes into hospital and needs their pet looking after.”

Michael and his wife Helen love helping those who are vulnerable to exercise their dogs.

He continued: “We used to spend more time with the people we’re helping, but now because of Covid you meet the dog outside, walk it and then deliver it back outside.

“We have met some really interesting people and their pets through it.

"It’s nice to be able to build up a relationship with people by looking after their pets, but once the pet moves on it’s a shame as you stop seeing the person.

"We walk two dogs once a week at the moment.”

Michael explains for him there are multiple benefits of giving up some of his time to volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust.

"For me the first benefit was mental health,” he said.

"I was getting out meeting people and researching walks. It was social contact.

"For the first couple of walks the dogs are trying to work out what’s going on, but after that they are your friend.

"They look out for you each week.

“You form a special bond with the dogs, seeing them each week.

“It’s very rewarding and as well as helping others, you’re getting benefits yourself – social contact, exercise and the reaction of the animals.

"Everyone kind of wins from this arrangement.

"It’s like what they say about children, you can borrow someone else’s, you can have fun and then give them back.

“It works for us because we really like animals but we also like to travel a lot.

"We don’t have the lifestyle to have dogs of our own at home – there’s too much of the world I have not seen.

“It really fits our lifestyle and allows us to meet new people.

“It’s something we’ll continue to do as long as we can.”

Explaining how the charity works after you’ve been approved as a volunteer, Michael said: "Every time someone decides they can no longer exercise their dog in the way it needs or deserves, the Cinnamon Trust reach out to their volunteers in the area and ask if anyone can help.

"Different people have different needs and when you volunteer you give as much or as little time as you can.

"For the pet owners, who are often vulnerable, if you’re in a crisis and are worried about your pet that’s not good.

"Knowing there’s someone to look after them is reassuring.

"As well as the regular dog walking, sometimes you can help if an owner has been taken into hospital.

"A lot of older folk get dogs for company so if it’s your best made, you don’t want to be worried about your best mate while you’re in hospital.

“But knowing that there’s people out there that can help out because they love animals is a relief and one less thing for the owner to worry about.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer visit www.cinnamon.org.uk or for a more in-depth chat call the trust between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday on 01736 758701.

To download a volunteer registration form visit the website or email [email protected]